Should we really care about spoiling plots for slowpoke viewers?

If you stayed up till 3am to watch 'Game of Thrones' the moment it came out, why should it be your problem to keep its contents a secret?

19 May 2019 - 00:12


Thanks to Game of Thrones and Avengers: Endgame, the phrase "no spoilers!" has been getting much more mileage than usual and with good reason. Spoilers suck and there's a special place reserved in hell for the people who go around freely handing them out like STDs.
If you're not sure what a spoiler is, it's when you come across information that gives away the details of a movie or show that ruin the experience for those who haven't seen it yet. Like when you're speaking to Iqbal from IT and he goes ahead and tells you how the big battle in GoT ended even though he knows you don't have access to all the clever illegal downloads and so have to wait to see it on Showmax like normal people.
In the right setting issuing spoilers can get you beaten up which is why the media is now full of "spoiler alert" warnings.
Here is the thing, though. Are we not being a little too sensitive to the viewing habits of slowpokes?
In days of yore, by appointment television meant that you knew where you needed to be at 7pm on a Wednesday if you wanted to catch the latest episode of Martin and thus be able to participate in Thursday's water-cooler banter. If you missed out, that was your baby and you could sulk in the corner avoiding spoilers or hear a blow-by-blow retelling of Gina's latest travails.
That's not how it works nowadays. What you want to watch and when you want to watch it have fallen nipples deep into our sphere of control. One of the consequences of on-demand TV is that now everyone is hysterically running around warning everyone else not to give away plot twists.
Spoiling isn't limited to television series and streaming either. Thanks to the ubiquity of illegal downloads, many people would also now rather wait for a movie in cinemas to find its way on to a USB drive rather than pay a few hundred rands to go see it on the big screen, which means that the rest of us have to wait for those people to source and watch their ill-gotten movies before we can have loud, robust chats about it in public. The question is why should we?
If you stayed up till 3am to watch Game of Thrones the moment it came out, why should it be your problem to keep its contents a secret? Surely those who don't want to find out the latest drama from Westeros should avoid the conversation and leave you to discuss it in smug peace.
In an effort to find middle ground, here is some quick etiquette for spoilers and those who wish to remain unspoilt:
DON'T BE A D**K
While your effort to be up to date is commendable, don't go out of your way to let the world know that you watched the new episode or movie. If asked, discuss it with wild abandon, but if your opinion is not solicited then stick to bland topics like the Israel-Palestine situation or land reform.
JUST GO OUT AND WATCH IT ALREADY
You can't expect the world to take you into consideration. If it's available and people have seen it, then it's up to you to get with the programme or risk someone ruining your viewing experience. No one will feel sorry for you if you still haven't watched Avengers: Endgame and find out how it ends from Nonkululeko in accounting.
STAY OFF SOCIAL MEDIA
Yes, most of us are addicted to it so abstaining from social media is easier said than done. But all addictions have negative side effects and the negative side effect of this particular one is that you're going to see Arya Stark memes as soon as she does dramatic things on GoT. If that prospect bugs you then keep your hands busy with knitting until you've watched the show.

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